A traditional beer shandy is a refreshing, height-of-summer drink, served ice cold and made by combining lemonade and a light-bodied beer, usually in a one to one ratio. The shandy is typically enjoyed in the middle of a hot day and has a relatively low alcohol content. Its primary purpose is to refresh, not to intoxicate.
But as summer is fading into fall, I've been experimenting with making shandies out of darker and sturdier beers. Since shandies are essentially a punch with beer as a base, the approach to mixing them is simple yet also accommodates endless variation – especially if you move beyond the half juice, half beer format of the classic version.
I'm also making my shandies with craft beers, ones with a higher alcohol content and deeper flavors than their summer equivalents. For pilsners and lagers, I've been mixing in fruit juices and liqueurs as well as carbonated liquids, so that the finished beverage maintains the light and bubbly profile of the original beer. For pale ales (EPAs and IPAs) I've been mixing in liqueurs that add to the beers' bitter and sour characteristics, while also turning up their underlying sweetness. (As with the lighter beers, it's helpful to add some extra carbonation to the pale ales.) For porters, I'm adding flavors that are earthy, autumnal, and more subtly sweet. For stouts, I'm including ingredients that amplify the deep, port-like notes inherent to this heaviest of beers.
Below are four shandies I've been enjoying recently, presented in order of lightest to heaviest. Some tips for improvising your own:
- Make sure the beer and all the ingredients are cold. This will keep the finished beverage more refreshing for longer, and it will also minimize the amount of foam created when adding other liquids to the beer.
- The goal of these shandies is to enhance and underscore the characteristics of the beer being used. Be sure to use the added juices and liqueurs sparingly – they should not overshadow or overwhelm the beer itself.
- As always, drink responsibly.
Pilsner or Lager Shandy
- 1 oz shot of pear liquor
- 2 oz mango juice
- splash of soda water
- 1 bottle of pilsener or lager
1. Add the liquor and juice to a chilled pint glass. Gently pour the beer into the glass and top with a splash of soda water. Lightly stir.
Extra Pale or India Pale Ale Shandy
- 1/2 oz shot of Aperol (or
other bitter, citrusy liqueur)
- 1/4 oz shot honey liqueur
- 2 oz lemon soda
- 1 bottle of EPA or IPA
1. Add the Aperol to a chilled pint glass. Gently pour the beer into the glass and top with lemon soda. Drizzle the honey liqueur over the top and lightly stir.
- 1 oz apple juice
- 2 oz ginger beer
- 1 bottle of porter
1. Add the juice and ginger beer to a chilled pint glass. Gently pour the beer into the glass and top with a few drops of bitters. Lightly stir.
- 1 oz grape juice
- 1 oz shot sweet vermouth
- 1 bottle of stout
Peter Groynom is a graduate of Carleton College and the San Francisco School of Bartending. He is an avid home cook, a writer, and a Photoshop enthusiast. His photography can be found at Arts and Hovercrafts. He lives in Minneapolis. His writes SGT's DIY Craft Cocktails series, and his latest post was A Sampling of the "Land of 10,000 Beers" Exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair.